Monmouth Poll: How would You Feel with a Trump or Biden Supporter as an In-law?

Biden and Trump

The American public feels that similar people make ideal mates, as long as they are not too similar. The Monmouth University Poll finds that differences in some characteristics – such as race and education – are not all that important in sizing up a family member’s potential partner. However, we see some clear dividing lines over whether a new spouse will be welcomed with open arms when presidential voting intent is thrown into the mix.

Nearly 2 in 3 Americans say partners should generally be similar to each other compared with just over 1 in 4 who say they should be more different. However, they shouldn’t be too similar or too different. Specifically, just 9% say that partners in an ideal relationship should be very similar while 57% say they should be somewhat similar. At the other end of the spectrum, just 4% say partners should be very different while 24% say that somewhat different partners make an ideal match. There are few variations in these views when responses are compared by gender, race, age, and political partisanship.

“We know from research that similarity is important for initial attraction. However, having some areas of difference also provide opportunities for growth, which help sustain relationships long-term,” said Dr. Gary Lewandowski, professor of psychology at Monmouth University and author of Stronger Than You Think: The 10 Blind Spots That Undermine Your Relationship…and How to See Past Them.

To test the importance of similarities in forming partnerships, Monmouth asked how people would react if an immediate family member was to marry ten different types of people. In general, most people said these scenarios would not matter to them, especially marrying someone who did not go to college (83%), marrying someone born and raised outside the U.S. (80%), and marrying someone of a different race (77%). These questions were also asked by the Pew Research Center in 2014, which found very similar results for these types of potential matches. For example, among non-Hispanic whites, 75% say an interracial marriage in their family would not matter to them, nearly identical to 77% who said this a decade ago. Among those who are Hispanic, Black, Asian, or of another race, 80% say an interracial marriage would not matter, which is nearly identical to 83% who felt the same ten years ago.

Marriage situations that seem to matter more to Americans are those involving a potential in-law’s faith, or lack thereof. Specifically, 37% say they would be generally unhappy if an immediate family member said they were going to marry someone who does not believe in God, while 8% would be generally happy with this match. In a different situation, 28% of Americans would be happy if their family member was going to marry a born-again Christian and 17% would be unhappy. Still, just over half say it would not matter to them if their family member’s potential spouse was either without religious faith (53%) or “born-again” (52%).

“Family members will always have their opinions, but what matters most is how the partners in the couple feel about these issues. That said, couples would be wise to make sure their values align. Religiosity is especially important because of the role it plays in raising children and how families celebrate holidays,” said Lewandowski.

There have been some notable shifts over the past ten years in concerns about the religiosity of a family member’s potential spouse. The number who would be unhappy if the new family member was a nonbeliever has actually decreased by 12 percentage points, from 49% who felt this way in 2014. The number who say they would be happy with this type of match has ticked up by 4 percentage points (from 4%) and those who say a lack of religious faith would not matter to them has increased by 7 percentage points (from 46%).

There has been a widening partisan gap in this opinion over the past decade. Among Republicans, 62% would be unhappy if a family member planned to marry someone who did not believe in God. This is similar to the 2014 Pew poll, when 67% of Republicans felt that way. On the other hand, only 22% of Democrats would be unhappy with a new in-law who does not believe in God, while 65% say it would not matter to them. In 2014, twice as many (45%) Democrats said they would be unhappy with such a match, while a smaller number (49%) said it would not matter to them.  Similarly, Republican opinion about marrying a born-again Christian (49% happy, 8% unhappy, 42% would not matter) is nearly identical to what it was ten years ago (51% happy, 5% unhappy, 42% would not matter). Democrat opinion, however, has moved over that time, with just 14% saying they would be happy with such a match (down from 30% in 2014), 32% saying they would be unhappy (up from 12%), and 51% saying this would not matter to them (similar to 56% in 2014).

One situation where there has been a small Republican shift is the prospect of a family member marrying a gun owner. Among all Americans, 22% would be happy with this match, 14% would be unhappy, and 60% say it would not matter to them. There has been only a slight shift in overall national opinion about this type of situation since 2014, when it stood at 17% happy, 19% unhappy, and 62% would not matter. Among Republicans, 41% would be happy if a family member married a gun owner (up from 32%) and just 4% would be unhappy (down from 10%), while 52% say it would not matter (down from 57%). There has been little movement in Democratic opinion of this situation, though. In the current poll, 8% of Democrats would be happy (8% in 2014), 30% would be unhappy (28% in 2014), and 59% say a family member marrying a gun owner would not matter to them (62% in 2014).

The poll also asked about the importance of the partisan identity of a family member’s intended spouse. Most Americans say it would not matter to them if their family member was going to marry a Democrat (65%) or Republican (59%). Overall, similar numbers say they would be happy – 20% with a Democrat and 21% with a Republican – or unhappy – 14% with a Democrat and 18% with a Republican. However, partisanship has grown as an important marital factor over the past ten years. In 2014, a larger number of Americans said that having a family member marry either a Democrats (76%) or a Republican (77%) would not matter to them.

This swing in opinion is starker when we isolate the results by the poll respondent’s own political identity. In 2014, just 19% of Democrats said they would be unhappy if a family member married a Republican, while 76% said this would not matter to them. Today, 39% would be unhappy and 57% say it would not matter. Conversely, 48% of Democrats would be happy if their family member married a fellow Democrat, which is up from 31% who said this in 2014. Ten years ago, 22% of Republicans would have been unhappy if a family member married a Democrat, while 71% said this would not matter. Today, 33% would be unhappy and 62% say it would not matter. Conversely, 53% say they would be happy if their family member married a fellow Republican, which is up from 37% who said this in 2014.

Among political independents, 76% say it would not matter to them if their family member married a Democrat (down from 85% in 2014) and 71% say it would not matter to them if their family member married a Republican (down from 86% in 2014). Independents are slightly more likely to be happy with a new Republican in-law (16%) than a Democratic one (9%), but equally likely to be unhappy with both types of matches (10% for a Republican and 12% for a Democrat).

There has also been an overall gender shift in the importance of political affiliation in a family member’s marital choice. While both men and women are more likely to see this factor as significant in how they react to a family member’s betrothal, the shift has been more pronounced among women. In 2014, more than 3 in 4 women said it would not matter to them if a family member married either a Democrat (77%) or a Republican (77%). Today, that number has dropped by 17 percentage points to 60% for marrying a Democrat and by 25 percentage points to 52% for marrying a Republican. Moreover, more women say they would be happy (25%, up from 15% in 2014) rather than unhappy (13%, up from 7%) if an immediate family member married a Democrat, but they would be evenly divided over marrying a Republican –21% happy (up from 12%) and 24% unhappy (up from 9%). Compared with women, more men say that partisan identity in a family member’s spouse does not matter to them – 70% if the future partner is a Democrat (76% in 2014) and 67% if a Republican (77% in 2014). These numbers are down from 2014, but it has not been as sizable a shift as among women. The larger finding is that there was practically no difference in the views of men and women on the importance of party affiliation for a family member’s potential partner ten years ago. That is not the case today.

“Partisanship is much more tied into our cultural identity than it was just a decade ago. How you identify politically is no longer just about where you stand on specific issues, but how you see yourself, and others, fitting into American society. This has become much more pronounced in the MAGA era,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The Monmouth poll included two other marital situations that the 2014 Pew poll could not have anticipated – the importance of having an in-law who voted for either Joe Biden or Donald Trump. Overall, 19% of Americans say they would be generally happy if a family member was marrying someone who voted for Biden, 20% would be unhappy, and 59% say this would not matter to them. Among Democrats, 47% would be happy about this. Among Republicans, 46% would be unhappy with a Biden-voting addition to their family. Trump triggers even more of a reaction, with 23% of Americans saying they would be generally happy if a family member was marrying a Trump voter and 27% would be unhappy, with just 48% saying this would not matter to them. Most Republicans (54%) would be happy with this situation, while 6 in 10 Democrats (60%) would be unhappy.

“It’s pretty interesting that of the ten marital scenarios we asked about, the one that matters most to people is the prospect of bringing a Trump voter into the family,” said Murray.

In other poll findings, just under 3 in 4 American adults (72%) report being in a relationship. This includes 58% who are currently married. Marital status is higher than in Monmouth polls conducted between 2014 and 2022 (ranging from 48% to 52%). The recent uptick corresponds with a new CDC report showing marriage rates have increased from record low levels during the pandemic, while divorce rates have been steadily decreasing. As in prior Monmouth polls, 9 in 10 of those who are in a relationship say they are satisfied with it, including 64% who are extremely satisfied and 26% who are very satisfied. Republicans (69%) are somewhat more likely than Democrats (58%) to report being extremely satisfied with their current relationship. Republicans (72%) are also more likely than Democrats (50%) to be in a marital relationship.

“These results are important for those dating and starting relationships. Early in the process it’s easy to focus on chemistry and attraction and not worry about political affiliation. However, as the sparks diminish the alignment of core values becomes essential, so couples would be wise to pay more attention to issues like politics and religion earlier in the dating process,” said Lewandowski, the Monmouth psychology professor.

The Monmouth University Poll was conducted by telephone from April 18 to 22, 2024 with 808 adults in the United States.  The question results in this release have a margin of error of +/- 4.1 percentage points for the full sample. The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, NJ.

 

QUESTIONS AND RESULTS     

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

 

[Q1-33 previously released.]

 

  1. Which of the following best describes you: married, living with a partner, never been married, widowed, divorced, or separated? [If NEVER MARRIED/WIDOWED/DIVORCED: Are you currently in a romantic relationship with someone?]
     Trend: April
2024
Jan.
2022
Jan.
2021
May
2020
Jan.
2017
Dec.
2014
Married 58% 50% 51% 48% 50% 52%
Living together 7% 8% 9% 10% 10% 7%
In a relationship 7% 8% 9% 8% 10% 11%
No relationship 26% 32% 31% 32% 29% 28%
(VOL) No answer 1% 2% 1% 1% 1% 1%
(n) (808) (794) (809) (808)  (801) (1,008)

 

[The following question was asked only of those currently in a relationship; n=590, m.o.e.=+/-4.8%]

 

  1. How satisfied are you with your current relationship – extremely, very, somewhat, not too, or not at all satisfied?
    Trend: April
2024
Jan.
2022
Jan.
2021
May
2020
Jan.
2017
Dec.
2014
Extremely satisfied 64% 60% 70% 59% 57% 58%
Very satisfied 26% 30% 22% 33% 31% 30%
Somewhat satisfied 7% 5% 6% 4% 9% 8%
Not too satisfied 1% 2% 0% 0% 1% 2%
Not at all satisfied 1% 2% 1% 1% 1% 2%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 2% 1% 2% 1% 1%
(n) (590)  (565) (551) (556)  (566) (749)

 

  1. For an ideal relationship, how similar or different should the partners be – very similar, somewhat similar, somewhat different, or very different?
    Trend: April
2024
Jan.
2017
Very similar 9% 9%
Somewhat similar 57% 52%
Somewhat different 24% 29%
Very different 4% 3%
(VOL) Don’t know 7% 7%
(n) (808)  (801)

 

  1. How would you react if a member of your immediate family told you they were going to marry [READ ITEM] – would you be generally happy about it, generally unhappy about it, or wouldn’t it matter to you at all? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED; “Trump/Biden” were asked after the other eight items.]
    Trend: Happy Unhappy Wouldn’t
matter
(VOL) Don’t know (n)
A Republican 21% 18% 59% 2% (808)
   — March 2014* 13% 9% 77% 1% (3,335)
           
A Democrat 20% 14% 65% 2% (808)
   — March 2014* 15% 8% 76% 1% (3,335)
           
Someone who did not go to college 8% 8% 83% 2% (808)
   — March 2014* 6% 14% 79% 1% (3,335)
           
Someone born and raised outside the U.S. 11% 6% 80% 3% (808)
   — March 2014* 10% 7% 81% 2% (3,335)
           
Someone who does not believe in God 8% 37% 53% 2% (808)
   — March 2014* 4% 49% 46% 1% (3,335)
           
A “born again” Christian 28% 17% 52% 3% (808)
   — March 2014* 32% 9% 57% 2% (3,335)
           
A gun owner 22% 14% 60% 3% (808)
   — March 2014* 17% 19% 62% 1% (3,335)
           
Someone of a different race 13% 8% 77% 2% (808)
   — March 2014* 9% 11% 79% 1% (3,335)
           
           
Someone who voted for Donald Trump 23% 27% 48% 2% (808)
           
Someone who voted for Joe Biden 19% 20% 59% 2% (808)
           

* Source for 2014 results: Pew Research Center

 

 

METHODOLOGY

 

The Monmouth University Poll was sponsored and conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute from April 18 to 22, 2024 with a probability-based national random sample of 808 adults age 18 and older. Interviews were conducted in English, and included 163 live landline telephone interviews, 349 live cell phone interviews, and 296 online surveys via a cell phone text invitation. Telephone numbers were selected through a mix of random digit dialing and list-based sampling. Landline respondents were selected with a modified Troldahl-Carter youngest adult household screen. Interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, with sample obtained from Dynata (RDD, n=484), Aristotle (list, n=168) and a panel of prior Monmouth poll participants (n=156). Monmouth is responsible for all aspects of the survey design, data weighting and analysis. The full sample is weighted for region, age, education, gender and race based on US Census information (ACS 2021 one-year survey). For results based on this sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points adjusted for sample design effects (1.41). Sampling error can be larger for sub-groups (see table below). In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

 

Demographics (weighted)

Party (self-reported): 25% Republican, 44% Independent, 31% Democrat

Sex: 49% male, 50% female, 1% other

Age: 30% 18-34, 32% 35-54, 38% 55+

Race: 61% White, 12% Black, 17% Hispanic, 9% Asian/other

Education: 38% high school or less, 29% some college, 17% 4 year degree, 16% graduate degree

 

MARGIN OF ERROR
unweighted  sample moe
(+/-)
TOTAL   808 4.1%
REGISTERED VOTER Yes 746 4.3%
No 62 14.8%
SELF-REPORTED PARTY ID Republican 188 8.5%
Independent 344 6.3%
Democrat 272 7.1%
IDEOLOGY Liberal 212 8.0%
Moderate 308 6.6%
Conservative 272 7.1%
GENDER Male 399 5.8%
Female 403 5.8%
AGE 18-34 210 8.0%
35-54 284 6.9%
55+ 312 6.6%
CHILDREN IN HOME Yes 196 8.3%
No 610 4.7%
RACE White, non-Hispanic 543 5.0%
Other 254 7.3%
COLLEGE GRADUATE No degree 352 6.2%
4 year degree 456 5.5%
WHITE COLLEGE White, no degree 228 7.7%
White, 4 year degree 315 6.6%
INCOME <$50K 184 8.6%
$50 to <$100K 218 7.9%
$100K+ 369 6.1%

 

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One response to “Monmouth Poll: How would You Feel with a Trump or Biden Supporter as an In-law?”

  1. How about a poll to determine just how many people believe these polls are just a waste of time effort and money.

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